Over the course of my life, I’ve discovered that not everyone likes chocolate. Yikes!! But what really pulls at my heart strings is when someone who loves chocolate develops an allergy to chocolate. What a nightmare that must be! When I tried to research what chemical in chocolate could possibly trigger such a reaction, the answer wasn’t straightforward. It’s extremely rare to have an allergy to cocoa itself. Usually, the allergy is to the other ingredients that are added in to make a chocolate bar (e.g., milk, soy (used as an emulsifier), and a chemical that looks like gluten to the immune system).
So what does all of this have to do with raspberry crumb bars? If you need to make a chocolate-free cookie or bar, look no further because this recipe is for you. It is hands down one of the most delicious bars around. It’s not even an ooey gooey treat. Instead, it’s a buttery, crumbly, bar using basic ingredients that is reminiscent of old European-style desserts. I make this bar for every holiday–it fits them all!
The best thing about these bars is that they are so easy to make! There are six ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, egg (1), ground nuts, and vanilla extract. You don’t even need (and shouldn’t even use) baking soda or baking powder.
First, I grind some nuts in a mini-food processor (or you can purchase ground nuts). I usually choose either walnuts or almonds (skins on!), but pecans and hazelnut (skinless) would work well too.
I then pull out my large food processor and add in the flour, sugar, ground nuts, 2 sticks of butter, 1 egg, and vanilla extract. You could probably use a standing mixer for this. If you really want to get rustic, cut the butter and egg into the dry ingredients with two knives. The food processor method is the quickest.
I process it all at once until the mixture looks like wet crumbs, almost like when making pastry for pies. If I over-process it, it’s not a disaster like it would be for a pie crust, except that it will be more difficult to do the crumb topping at the end since the dough will be a big blob.
I set aside over a cup of the crumb mixture and pressed the rest into an ungreased 9″ x 9″ square pan.
Next, I spread on some raspberry jam or preserves. I’ve used blackberry jam or apricot jam with great results.
Then I sprinkle the crumbs all over the top.
The pan goes into the oven for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown. I tend to keep the pan in the oven a minute extra to ensure that it’s baked through and through (and not raw in the middle as has happened to me more than once). I make sure it’s golden brown all over the top before taking it out of the oven.
After the pan of yumminess is at room temperature, I usually put the pan in the refrigerator overnight. The bars are easier to cut that way in that you’ll get cleaner cuts. To finish things off for serving, I dust with confectioners sugar and cut them into squares (or vice versa). These bars are a family favorite–hope you enjoy them too!